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St. Albert athletes shine at Summer Games

Track and BMX athletes dominate the podium after a sterling weekend in Okotoks
Members of the St. Albert Mustangs Track and Field Club pose with medals and their Zone 5 uniforms at the Alberta Summer Games in Okotoks. ST. ALBERT MUSTANGS TRACK AND FIELD CLUB/ Supplied

St. Albert athletes were shining on the track and in the saddle at the Alberta Summer Games last weekend.

The annual competition brought together thousands of talented youth athletes from across the province at Okotoks from July 20-23. The weekend was a huge success, and one marked with phenomenal performances from many St. Albert athletes.

Barrett Groves, a media representative for the St. Albert Mustangs, talked about the rigorous selection and training process athletes underwent to compete at the Summer Games.

"Any athlete wishing to be selected to represent their zone at the Alberta Summer Games was required to attend the St. Albert Challenge track meet in May," Groves said. The top two finishers from each zone at this event were chosen to compete.

The commitment didn't stop there, though.

"Most of our Alberta Summer Games athletes were also club athletes and have been training since April," Groves said. Depending on their events, some trained up to five days a week — and the rigorous preparation clearly paid off.

Among them was Pierre Chong, an incoming Grade 11 student at St. Albert Catholic High School, who started his athletic journey in Grade 4 at Neil M Ross Elementary School. Chong had a standout performance, bagging a gold medal in the medley relay, a silver in the 4x100-metre relay, and placing seventh in the 100m.

Beyond the physical side, Chong said mental preparedness played a significant role in his performance.

"A lot of it is about the mental game — getting mentally prepared to push hard,” he said. “I kind of draw everything out in my mind ahead of time.”

Optimizing his physical health was equally important.

"There is a lot of warming up of muscles ahead of a race, and eating and hydrating properly for days ahead to prepare,” Chong said. “And ideally lots of sleep to prepare.”

Another shining star from the weekend was Payton Duffy, a St. Albert biker who made a big impression in BMX racing. Duffy secured two gold medals over the weekend, one in the classic race and one in the time trial event. 

"It was an incredible experience and I had so much fun," she said. "I would like to thank all of the volunteers, AB BMX and Alberta Bicycle for this event, and my sponsor factory LSG, because I wouldn’t be where I am now without them."

Nolan Reiling also won gold on the BMX track.

“It was super exciting competing in the Alberta summer games for Zone 5, and to represent the St. Albert BMX community made it even better.”

Groves stressed the importance of camaraderie and support among teammates at the Summer Games.

"I attended the ASG in 2018, and the experience brought me a lot closer with my teammates and helped to form lifelong friendships," he said.

Chong echoed Groves' sentiment about the event's significance beyond competition.

"It is exciting to compete with others outside my zone," he said. "It's a bigger competition. It pushes me harder, and it’s nice to meet and spend more time with new people." 

Alexandra Watson (400m), Brooke Kwasnycia (javelin), Ella Diener (discus), Karissa De Sousa (2000m), Noelle Hibbert (triple jump), Silas Kerbes (triple jump) and Tiege King (shotput and discus) also brought gold medals back to St. Albert.

Despite their success, these athletes aren't resting on their laurels.

Chong said his goals are, "always pushing myself to get faster, to beat my previous personal best time." 

Now, his eyes are set on next year's national competition in Calgary, where he hopes to qualify for Team Alberta.

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